Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Please, Europeans, stop obsessing over the US election

"American exceptionalism itself has something of a Sunset Boulevard feel to it, a black comedy where a faded silent movie star believes she is still the most luminous presence on the screen."

Over my decade in Europe I've seen a lot of BBC correspondents come and go from their American postings. But none has seemed to grasp the real affliction facing America like Nick Bryant (quoted above).

His observations during this absolute farce of an election season have been particularly spot-on. And Europeans, who tend to be far more interested in American politics than they really should be, should give him a read.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Incredible - Europe has fallen behind America in providing roaming solutions

US mobile carriers now allow their customers to use data worldwide for free. Meanwhile, European carriers are still charging to roam within the EU. What's wrong with this picture?

When I first moved to Europe ten years ago, finding cell phone solutions while I was home visiting the US was a bi-annual challenge. 

I go home twice a year - often enough to need a US cell phone while I'm there, but not often enough to maintain a monthly plan. While travelling in Europe, I would buy local prepaid sim cards for extended visits. But in the US, there were hardly any prepaid cell phone options and those that existed charged outrageous rates.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

San Francisco's view of Berlin

Berlin may be an emerging tech hub, but Silicon Valley seems unaware 

I’m in San Francisco this week, visiting my uncle and taking care of a few work meetings (potential freelancing clients). I haven’t been here in 12 years, so it’s been great to rediscover the city. 

I’ve also been visiting a lot of old friends from journalism school, all of whom are working in or around the tech sector. There are a lot of opportunities out here for tech-focused reporting or copy writing these days. Given that Berlin is considered an emerging tech powerhouse in Europe, I was curious to get their take on the scene there. But what I encountered was either a lack of knowledge or a dismissive attitude. For the tech people I’ve talked to, Berlin is either a non-entity or a nuisance. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Will the Öresund become a symbol of European disintegration?

For the first time in six decades, Sweden has installed controls at its border with Denmark.

This morning, border checks took effect on the Öresund Bridge, which connects with countries of Sweden and Denmark. 30,000 people use this bridge to commute between the cities of Copenhagen and Malmo each day. For comparison, imagine New York and New Jersey setting up ID checks on the George Washington Bridge

The news might not seem particularly remarkable to British or American readers. After all, they have to go through a passport control to get to any other country, so why shouldn't Swedes or Danes? 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Processing a tragedy

The lockdown in Brussels last month reminded me of the days following the 9/11 attacks in New York.

I'm home in the US for the holidays, and over the weekend I discovered a treasure trove of old videos from high school and college in my parents' basement.

Among the VHS copies of my public access sketch comedy show in high school (don't worry I won't embarrass anyone by posting those videos!) I came across some footage I shot during the 9/11 attacks in New York City. I had completely forgotten about it.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

No, Brussels is not the new Berlin

People move to Berlin because they want to. People move to Brussels because they have to.

Given that I live in both cities, a lot of people have been asking me this weekend about Friday's New York Times article, 'Why Brussels is the New Berlin'. My first reaction after seeing the headline was to scoff. The article itself left me rather perplexed and annoyed.

These "________ is the new Berlin" articles are becoming a bad cliche. As Jon Worth pointed out in his blog today, this has been written about Warsaw, Leipzig, Zagreb, Krakow, Vilnius - the list goes on and on. The only prerequisite for the comparison seems to be that the city is cheap and has at least some artists in it. The Brussels-Berlin comparison is not itself new. Deutsche Welle did a similar article in August, although their piece had a more sensible focus on artists.